Tag Archives: Heather Headley

The Color Purple – Jacobs Theatre, Broadway -25th June 2016

12 Jul

I remember watching the very first preview of The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory. I remember being excited to see the first public performance of what promised to be a great production. And I remember leaving the theatre slightly underwhelmed. I did not dislike the show back then and I was impressed by Cynthia Erivo’s portrayal of Celie. But I wasn’t amazed by the production either. I figured it just was not my kind of musical and decided I had seen it once now and that would be enough.

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When the production transferred to Broadway I had no intention of watching it. And I kept it at that until that day they announced Jennifer Hudson’s replacement as Shug Avery: Heather Headley. There are a few performers who will make me watch literally anything. Heather is one of them.

And so I found myself in the orchestra (= stalls, for those of you not familiar with Broadway theatre) to see a show I was sure I would find ok but not great. Then the show started and my theatrical heart exploded.

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There was Cynthia Erivo literally laying her soul out for everyone to see. Her Celie is vulnerable but strong, she is fearless and determined – it is impossible to not love her.

Danielle Brooks as Sofia made me laugh and cry – a powerful force on stage.

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And then there was Heather Headley, my reason to revisit the show and the one person I had the highest expectations for. If you are waiting for me to say I was underwhelmed you will be disappointed. Heather Headley’s Shug Avery is sublime. With a voice smooth as velvet Heather commands the stage. She’s feisty and funny and strong and sexy – she just IS Shug Avery.

It’s impossible to find a weak link in the cast. From Isaiah Johnson’s Mister to Kyle Scatliffe’s Harpo, Joaquina Kalukango’s Nettie and everyone in the Ensemble this is pure class on stage.

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I went into this show expecting to love Heather Headley’s performance. I walked out of the theatre having my faith in musical theatre restored. As long as productions like this exist musical theatre is alive. The Color Purple made my heart sing and I am grateful Heather Headley joined this production – not just because she was sensational but also because without her I would never have made the journey to watch this show. And my soul needed a show like The Color Purple – in fact I think every soul can do with a show like this now and then.

The Color Purple is on at the Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. For more info and to book tickets please visit: http://www.colorpurple.com

Theatrical highlights of 2013

25 Dec

It’s that time of year again where I want to take a moment and name my theatrical highlights of the past 12 months. I know a lot of theatre websites and blogs publish their personal “best and worst” but I’ve decided to concentrate on the good things and not name and shame shows and such that were not to my taste.

So here goes, in no particular order. Lets start with my show highlights of 2013.

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Once the musical (Phoenix Theatre)

I admit I had been listening to the soundtrack for months before I first saw the West End production of this show and I kind of knew I was in for a treat when I stepped inside the Phoenix Theatre on a Saturday evening in March. However, I couldn’t have imagined this show would have such a huge impact on my theatre life. Once is by far the most beautiful thing I have seen on a stage for a long time. It’s such a sweet and simple show that touches your heart and soul. I have become a regular at the Phoenix Theatre over the past months and I intend to keep watching and supporting this show. Everyone involved in this production deserves the biggest round of applause for bringing Once to life in London’s West End. Thank you for some of the finest moments I’ve spent in a theatre this year.

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Sweeney Todd (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester)

This production was everything I hoped it would be and more. A brilliant cast and fantastic staging. This is the way a show like this should be presented to the audience. I was thrilled from start to end.

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The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time (Apollo Theatre)

This play has been around for a while but it took me until this year to finally go and see it. Having read the book years ago I had no idea how it would be possible to transfer this story to the stage. To say I was amazed after my first visit would be an understatement. I left the theatre completely blown away by the staging, the set and the cast. I really hope this play has a future after the tragic events the other week (thoughts are with everyone affected).

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Bare (Greenwich Theatre)

I went to see this without knowing anything about the show except a few songs. It was one of those “So-and-so is in it so I’m going to see it” kind of visits. What can I say? I loved it. It made me laugh and it made me cry and I wish I could have seen it more than just once.

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Mojo (Harold Pinter Theatre)

I went to see this because I just couldn’t miss out on seeing this cast on stage together. It may not be the strongest play but it was one of my most memorable theatrical evenings of 2013 thanks to the wonderfully talented cast.

Obviously I have seen and enjoyed a lot more shows, some of which I’ve been watching again and again for years. But the five productions above are my stand outs of all new (at least for me) shows I’ve seen this year. Lets go on with my highlights when it comes to performers in 2013. Please note that I’m not only choosing from the list of performers I’ve seen for the first time in 2013. But I am only including performers I have seen on stage this year in one or more productions. Again, this list has no particular order.

Declan Bennett
He is currently playing Guy in Once the musical as well as doing gigs in London (and recently New York) now and then. I could seriously listen to Declan singing for hours. His voice makes my heart smile – as cliché as it may sound.

Heather Headley
For me this lady is a singing goddess, simple as that. I adore her voice and I loved seeing her on stage in The Bodyguard more times than I should possibly admit. I think she’s stunning through and through.

Ryan Molloy
I’ve been following Ryan’s career for the past 6 years and he still manages to amaze me. His voice is incredible and he is one of those people who were just born to be on stage. On top of that he is a wonderful person and I’m happy and proud to call myself a supporter.

Ben Wheeler
Ben has been a swing at Jersey Boys in London for the past six years. Not only is he by far my favourite Tommy DeVito, he has proven that he is one of the most talented and versatile performers this production has ever seen.

Jill Winternitz
I admit I’m not the biggest fan of Dirty Dancing the musical. However, I am a huge fan of this lovely lady. Jill is currently playing Baby in Dirty Dancing at the Piccadilly Theatre and she is one of the reason I find this production hugely enjoyable.

Stephen Ashfield
I haven’t listed The Book of Mormon in my show highlights of 2013 even though I did enjoy the show a lot. I am however a bit tired of the never-ending hype surrounding the production (good for them though, it’s always great to see a show selling well). And when I think about it the real highlight in this show is Stephen. In my eyes he is the star, he is what makes me want to go and see this show again at some point. I’ve been supporting Stephen for a few years now and I have loved him in every single show I’ve seen him in, from Jersey Boys to Legally Blonde, Boy meets Boy, Book of Mormon etc. Stephen is brilliant, full stop.

Ian McIntosh
He never really caught my eye in Rock of Ages. I remember seeing him on stage a few times but for me he didn’t stand out. Then I went and watched The Commitments and he happened to be playing Deco that evening. I was blown away! That voice is quite simply insane and I cannot praise his performance high enough. Ian is a future leading man, I’m absolutely sure of it.

Ben Whishaw
I’ve been dying to see Ben Whishaw on stage ever since I watched Perfume – Story of a Murderer ages ago. So as you can imagine this year has been a dream for me in that sense – Ben appearing in not just one but two plays in the West End. I loved him in Peter and Alice and I was completely stunned watching him in Mojo. It’s very rare to see such an incredibly talented actor on stage, someone who doesn’t just play his part but who seems to truly become the character he is playing.

Luke Treadaway
This man amazed me with his portrayal of Christopher Boone in Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time. His performance was so real and honest – I am still in awe just thinking about it.

And finally I’m adding a group of people to the list because I honestly can’t just name a few of them – these guys and girls are all stars:

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The cast of Once the musical
It’s very rare to see a cast that fits together so incredibly well. This group of people – all incredibly talented individuals – have come together and created something magical at the Phoenix Theatre. As much as I love Once as a show, I absolutely adore its cast and I cannot thank them enough for the music, the laughs and the tears. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And that’s it everyone. There have been a lot more performers who have made me smile, laugh and generally filled my theatre-loving heart with joy. I could try and name them all but we’d still be here next year and I’m sure you all have better things to do than going through a list of names.

All that’s left to do now is to thank all of you for being interested in my blog. Thanks for reading and commenting and thanks for keeping in touch on Twitter. I do hope I have managed to provide at least a few half interesting reviews, interviews and such. I’ll try my best to keep you interested in 2014. I’ve got a few new shows on the agenda soon so there should be new reviews up in the not to far away future.
Please continue to comment and tweet. It’s always lovely to hear from fellow theatregoers and all you people working in the industry.

I hope each and everyone of you is having a wonderful Christmas. Enjoy the last days of 2013 and here’s to a great 2014 full of theatrical fun.

xx

The Bodyguard at The Adelphi Theatre – 15th February 2013

16 Feb

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve become slightly addicted with The Bodyguard since my first visit in December. At the moment I’m watching the show around once a week and I’m loving it more and more each time.

And when I found out I would happen to be in London the day Oliver Le Sueur was on for Frank Farmer for the first time I just couldn’t resist watching the show that day.

I love Lloyd Owen’s Frank. He’s very calm and oozes charisma. His Frank hides his feelings well and doesn’t open up to people quickly.
Oliver on the other hand comes across as much warmer and easier to get close to. His Frank shows more emotion and he generally appears more accessible. I loved seeing such a completely different take on the role. While I doubt this portrayal would suit Lloyd’s Frank it worked perfectly for Oliver. It was very impressive to see how relaxed Oliver appeared playing the male lead in such a big show for the very first time. I’m looking forward to seeing how he develops in the part once he has been on a few more times. If you get the chance please do go and catch him as Frank. You won’t be disappointed!

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Heather Headley once again proved what a star she is by delivering yet another breathtaking performance. Her and Oliver worked really well together. And for the first time her answer to “What did you expect?” after she tells Frank he doesn’t look like a Bodyguard made perfect sense: “Somebody bigger” (not that Oliver is small but he’s definitely not as tall as Lloyd).

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Debbie Kurup’s performance was flawless as always. Hearing her and Heather sing “Run to you” remains one of my show highlight. She gives Nicky a vulnerability that makes it impossible not to feel for her.

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I’d like to give a special shout out to David Page and Holly James. Watching those two dance is nothing but amazing. I really hope I’ll manage to catch Holly as Nicky and David as the Stalker sometimes.

If you haven’t seem The Bodyguard yet I urge you to go and watch the show. You’ll be treated to an evening full of breathtaking voices, great dancing and an all in all well done stage adaption of a popular movie.

For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.thebodyguardmusical.com

The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre – 28th December 2012

3 Jan

I finally managed to sort out a visit to the newest “film to stage” musical in town a few days ago. The Bodyguard started previews in November and has received mixed reviews. Following the well-known movie starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Kostner the show tells the story of singer (and superstar) Rachel Marron who is threatened by an unknown stalker and Frank Farmer who is hired to protect her. Most of you will have seen the movie so I won’t go into any more details here. The stage show has changed a few pieces of the storyline – some of which work well and one in particular that I personally don’t like. But I’ll come back to that later (there will be spoilers!).

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Heather Headley stars as Rachel Marron and for me she is the highlight of the show. From the moment we catch the first glimpse of her right until the end of “I wanna dance with somebody” (the show’s uptempo finale) Heather owns the stage. She has the most amazing voice you can think of – not only does she have a power belt, her voice also has a really nice and warm tone. I love to hear her sing. However, beside being a brilliant singer Heather really captures the character of Rachel – extremely sure of herself and used to getting what she wants but in the end just a girl and mother who is scared for her life and the safety of her family.

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Frank Farmer – the bodyguard – is played by Lloyd Owens. The part focuses on acting only (there’s no dancing involved and the tiny bit of singing in one scene doesn’t really count) which works great for Lloyd. Frank is quite an introverted character so the actor playing him needs to have great stage presence to stand up to the outgoing Rachel Marron. And Lloyd Owen simply oozes charisma. The only slight problem I have with Lloyd’s portrayal is that it is hard to notice Frank actually falls in love with Rachel. He just seems too controlled and shows little to no feelings.

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Janet Kumah was on for Nicky Marron and I admit I was a bit disappointed to miss out on Debbie Kurup on my first visit (I just love to see her on stage). But that disappointment vanished as soon as Janet started singing for the first time. She has a wonderful voice and manages to give Nicky a really soft and extremely vulnerable side despite her burning jealousy of her popular sister Rachel. Coming back to the one script change (compared to the movie) I don’t really like so far: Nicky has been reduced to a lovesick girl who longs after Frank Farmer and envies her sister. In the movie it is Nicky who hires the killer. In the stage show she just dwells in jealousy, anger, sadness and maybe a little self-pity but she doesn’t actually do anything. For me that makes the character less interesting.

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The rest of the cast does a great job. Mark Letheren is wonderfully creepy as The Stalker (there is just one bad guy in the stage show) and I have to give a special mention to David Page who gets the chance to show off his dancing abilities as Rory (Rachel’s choreographer). Plus it is fantastic to see Holly James on stage again – she is just stunning and always manages to stand out. However, it is pretty clear that this show is focusing on Rachel, Frank and Nicky.

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For me The Bodyguard is a fabulous Whitney concert with a story mixed in between. I have heard people say that the whole show is lacking on substance and I agree to a certain extend. The story is predictable and the characters are not that well-developed. However, the show is based on a (in my opinion) rather bad movie that was successful because of Whitney Houston and its soundtrack. So anyone who watches The Bodyguard expecting deep and thoughtful theatre (to quote a character from another show) is bound to feel let down. Personally I had the best time watching this show and I’m already sorting out my next visit.

I suggest you give this one a try – if only to see and hear all those songs being performed by such a talented cast.

The Bodyguard is playing at the Adelphi Theatre. For more info and to book tickets visit http://www.thebodyguardmusical.com/.